By Missy Stoddard
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
June 22, 2006
An appeals court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a Delray Beach hair stylist who gunned down his estranged wife's lover in 2000.
The court ruled that a jury should have been allowed to hear evidence that the man was under the influence of antidepressants at the time of the killing.
Saying a judge erred by refusing to allow an "involuntary intoxication defense," the 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the murder conviction and life sentence of Eugene Lucherini, who testified that he was "in a fog" when he shot Edward Wallace after breaking into his apartment.
A Palm Beach County jury convicted Lucherini, 59, of first-degree murder and burglary in the killing of Wallace, who Lucherini said "stole everything from me," according to court testimony.
During his week-long trial in 2004, Lucherini's attorney tried to present evidence that as a result of taking antidepressants, Lucherini was unable to form the intent to commit murder. Circuit Judge Hubert Lindsey, now retired, barred any testimony about the medications.
In its ruling, the appeals court wrote that Lucherini "was entitled to present to the jury evidence of the medications he was taking, that he was taking them as prescribed, how these medications interacted with each other, and their effect with respect to the issue of specific intent in support of an involuntary intoxication defense."
Prosecutor Aleathea McRoberts said Lucherini initially told authorities that he was not on any medication, but at trial changed his story.
"His testimony about what he did take was that it wasn't in compliance with the prescription, which is why the judge disallowed it," McRoberts said.
Defense attorney Christopher Grillo could not be reached for comment, despite an attempt by phone.
Lucherini, according to trial testimony, bought a gun shortly after he and his wife Marlene separated in April 2000. At that time, authorities committed Lucherini for mental health observation after he told sheriff's deputies that his wife's affair made him suicidal but that he was "too chicken" to harm himself.
Distraught about having to sign divorce papers several months later, Lucherini testified that he just wanted to talk to Marlene Lucherini when he threw a metal cabinet through the window of the Lantana apartment shared by Wallace and Marlene Lucherini and dove inside armed with a pistol.
After the killing, Eugene Lucherini walked to a nearby Blockbuster and called 911 to report what happened.
Missy Stoddard can be reached at email@example.com or 561-228-5505.
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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